Pole pas de deux

Pole pas de deux

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Pole Dancer Closet

You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.
Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

Martin Luther King Jr.

I saw this quote posted on real life friend's Facebook page about a week ago. Like many things you find on the Internet I wanted to verify the accuracy and origin before I posted it. It resonated with me because I don't always see empowerment or creative self-expression in pole dance. Sometimes I just see pole dance as a form of socially stigmatized self-indulgence. The analogy that comes to mind is having sex in a public place where you might get caught. It's thrilling but not exactly something that you are going to discuss with your boss. It's rebellious and totally outside polite societies boundaries. You keep doing it because the adrenaline rush is addictive. Indulging in that drug is giving your Sunday school teacher and the ex that said you were boring in bed the finger.

So many of us have learned that pole dance whether it be sexy, athletic, or simply raunchy is like any art. The beauty lies in the soul of the person who dances. However, many of us are living in the shadows. I will probably never coach an ice hockey team again. After my retirement it is unlikely that I will get a part time professorship teaching meteorology here in my part of the country. My son removed me from his Facebook friends list about five minutes after he sent me a friend request. Why? The reason was a picture of me doing something I love on a brass dance pole.  My militant Catholic sister-in-law and my nieces look at me, my home dance pole, and pretend that we are not related. All of this over a socially questionable dance form and being public about it.

I can't ignore the facts. A simple Google search that turns up a picture of you upside down on a dance pole can change your future. The pole world is full of respected lawyers, teachers, doctors, mothers, fathers, graduate students etc. People from every walk of life that you can imagine. So many of us have locked ourselves in the pole dance closet. Drawing a parallel between coming out as gay might be a little over the top but there are some connections. Once you choose to be a pole dancer, you have a decision to make. I made my decision. The existence of this blog with my legal name on it says it all.

I hear a lot of talk. I've seen a statement about how dance heals the spirit written on a wall over fourteen feet high. I don't know about you but if you pole dance and you live looking around the corner for some phantom to ruin your reputation, how healed can your spirit get? Don't get me wrong. I do understand how the real world works. It's a world where a school teacher or youth hockey coach gets dumped out on the street because of something they do on their personal time that has absolutely no bearing on their integrity, values, knowledge of subject or ability to teach and inspire their students.

I'm over three years into my pole dance odyssey and I can tell you that healing my spirit with pole dancing has just not happened. I understand myself in much more depth but it hasn't all been joyful. At times dancing has been downright painful for me. The mirrors, the self judgement, the difficulty and the vulnerability that goes with dance can kick your ass pretty hard.  In fact I'm beginning to conclude that I'm an emotional, expressive dancer because I'm a little odd or just plain fucked up. I'm not sure I would be able to dance worth a damn if I got "healed". Your can't feel the pain that inspired Vincent van Gogh on Prozac. I don't want to be healed. I just want to say things that I feel without words.

If you want cheap and easy go learn ballroom or tango (Especially if you are male and into women). Being a pole dancer is like being the 1000 lb white gorilla in the middle of the zoo. Exposing your soul to the world ballet dancing is tough enough. Why add in that "stripper" pole? The only way the public perception of pole dance is going to change is if enough apparently sane, everyday people are willing to be open about their "dance" preference. You might lose some "friends". You might lose some family. You might lose a job or business opportunity. I know from experience that some people think that there is something really awesome about men pole dancing. I really enjoy being around those people. I only have so many seconds on this planet and I want to spend the time I have in the company of people who accept a guy who pole dances.

Nothing in this world is free. Especially personal freedom. 

No comments:

Post a Comment